Manusmriti and Forbidden Food.

Goa University runs what is called Visiting faculty public lectures, these are usually a one credit course, for those who want accreditation else it is just a learning process. Most of us are there many taking time off from work the classroom is a pleasant mix.

Initially I had the time I attended a lot now I choose. Prof.Dr, Kumkum Roy is a faculty I love listening to. And this time she had the right mix that interested me, the Theragathas, Manusmriti and more.

Actually what we like to visualize as ancient India, the glorious age of Hinduism, had no Hinduism, it had a way of life with right and wrong,  and Manusmrithi was not really very touted or adhered to, having said that lets just have a look into what does Manusmrithi actually say about meat eating.. What Manusmrithi prohibits is the meat of an unconsecrated animal (5.27 – 57).

They don’t for a Brahmin is quite stringent but since I was curious about meat I am just focusing on it.  The Manusmrithi of course prohibits all carnivores’ birds, and single hoofed animals, but interestingly it allows a lot of poultry.

The Manusmrithi calls a man who eats the meat of some animals as eaters of that animal’s meat but a fish eaten is referred to as eater of every anima’s meat, therefore he must avoid fish. The pathhina, the rohita fish are allowed when they are used in an offering to gods or ancestors, while Rajiva, Simhatunda and Sasaka fish can be eaten any time.

While wandering and unknown animals or birds are prohibited. Animals with five nails are permitted, like the porcupine, hedgehog, monitor lizard, rhinoceros, the tortoise and the rabbit get edibility permit, so do animals with incisors in only one jaw with the exception of camel.

On the other hand a village hog, garlic, a village fowl, onion or leek intentionally eaten topples the Brahmin off his caste (11.213, 219)

Sacrificing animals and birds and feeding their dependents is permitted to Brahmin.

Eating meat is allowed if it is sacrificially consecrated at the behest of the Brahmin.  The Brahmin is also allowed meat when his life is at risk.

The food chain as created by the Prajapati is the hierarchy of the life breathe or the prana… mobile and the immobile need nourishment for life breathe, the immobile are food for the mobile, the fangless for the fanged, the handless for the handed, the timid for the brahve, the eater does get defieled byh eating living beings suitable for eating if if he eats them day after day, for the creator himself fashioned both the eater and the what is being eaten.

The Manusmrithi very specifically states that when a man eats meat whether it was purchased, procured by himself, or offered by someone else after making an offering t the gods and ancestors, he does not become defiled. The twice born is also allowed meat when faced with adversity. But eating ritually consecrated meat is allowed.  But killing an animal for futile reason or eating because of an urge is not acceptable.

Interestingly a person abstaining from meat and a man who offers the horse sacrifice every year for hundred years gain the same merit and the horse sacrifice or the ashwamedha entails, eating the meat of the sacrificed horse.

Very categorically the Manusmrithi says there is no fault in eating meat, in drinking liqueur, or in having sex these are natural activities of creatures, however abstaining from such activity, however brings great rewards.

Smart Auto

The Telangana government has definitely been proactive,

At the Hyderabad Litfest there was the electric auto’s on display. With two owners giving passengers a tour round the literary festival zone.

The auto’s felt good, amazing colours that it came in and some how it did not look like the harassed communters rescue operation, but it felt like a luxury ride, smooth and clean.

Aslam Haidiri one of the drivers who is one auto driver who opted to volunteer to use this for 6mnths and give a feed back to the government. Impressive exercise in itself.

The noise level was extremely low.

Passenger leg space in the current scenario is extremely good.

At the drivers space it is good, too, it does have the option of self start but the drivers are advised against it.  the engine needs intial 24hrs after which the charge has to be maintained, at least that is what Mr.Haidiri explained to me, according to him it works to about 70paise for a km, which seems a very good deal.

auto rani (3)

There are also built in billing system, which gives a printed bill to the customer.  This comes with zero pollution.

As a driver Mr.Haidiri was commenting that it takes, few minutes for the bill to be generated and customers tend to be impatient.  After the trail ride I was however left with a few questions, where will the charging points be? I mean will we have public charging points like the mobile chargers have… again Mr. Haidiri says there is a move to have solar charges that will allow the auto to get charged as it is parked.

I only hope it won’t go the same way that the electric run two wheeler or the Rewa went.



The Magical Painters

Story telling has taken on many platforms and the scrolls are a great place.

From the middle east with the Arabs, came the “Kari” or the art of the “qalam” that is the pen, so qalamkari or “Kalamkari” found a new home in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

Silk or cotton fabric is treated with Buffalo milk, then natural dyes are used to create and fill the images. The Srikalahasta school of Kalamkari is more of religious scrolls and every image is hand printed, while the Masulipattanam school uses block printing.

kalamkari 2
various dyes used in Kalamkari

The qalam or the pen used is made of bamboo or date palm sticks.

Art form came to India in 10 century CE, and was patronized by the Moghal and the kings of Golconda.

The fabric, the dyes are all natural.

The current Telangana government in a bid to preserve it, support the Kalamkari artists, it was wonderful to see youngsters, totally immersed in the learning this art at the Hyderabad literary festival. For them it was a connect with their roots it gave them a sense of belonging and pride.

The Shrikalahasta school was used create scrolls that visually narrated the various rendering from the folklore, while the Masulipattanam school caters more to the Islamic taste of its patron kings. The Karrapur style developed when the Marathas took it Thanjavur

kalamkari 1
various dyes used in kalamkari

These artists were Jadupatuas, or Duari Patuatas, the magical painters, the British carried it with them and it morphed to chintz and for the Dutch it was sitz and for the Portuguese it is “Pintado”

Hindi Head Out

Do you feel? Is ignoring by Indian while country’s language is the root of the nation helping to represent their culture and tradition—blogger Dhruv Singh who blogs at

Excuse me… who the F***k says that hindi represents India? It does not.

How does Hindi represent the Tulu culture can you tell me.. please? Why am I being forced to learn the language?

I go to the Canara Bank at Santa Cruz Goa… which is a small village, the village consists of Konkani, Portuguese and Kannada population. The bank staff have replaced and majority of the staff are from the Hindi-belt there are two staff members who have been here for at least two years, they have got the rest of the staff to speak hindi… the customers struggle and communicate in hindi, this person sprawls on his chair and is conversing to the Canara bank person in Mathura — to the day they do not speak a word of Konkani — would the when people cross the vindhyas not only are they asked to speak hindi but to speak whatever the dialect.

I walk into corporation bank at Manipal again it is a Konkani, Tulu and Kannada terrain, the manager Mr.Patni has been there for two years, there are only two out of the dozen staff who are cowbelters yet the entire bank speaks broken Hindi to accommodate them, while these uncouth slobs cannot learn a word of Kannada, Tulu or Konkani. This to me is arrogance. I now understand why people want to shift to post office account or a bank like HDFC where at least English is spoken, so we do not have to put up with rude Hindi person.

Would the canara or corporation bank dare put an employee who cannot speak Hindi to the Hindi belt?

Telecallers, not only call you at odd hours, but they rattle of in Hindi without having the damn courtesy of finding out if we know the language. When you ask them to slow down or repeat, or ask them to speak a language you can understand they use obscenity, this is the great Hindi culture that you are talking about. The call centre person at for Ola Cabs in Bangalore, which by the way is the capital of the Kannada country, says she cannot understand Kannada, so this caller who wanted an car should speak to her in Hindi because this great woman has come from the north. Oh! Yes, the call centre connect to the ambulance had the same problem.

I remember the early congress slogans would be in Tulu, today everything is in Hindi, when Hindi enters the arena it is like a weed liking the local language, with the local language dies the history and the ethnic identity, instead of celebrating Onam, we are wished happy vamana jayanthi, instead of woman letting their hair loose with jasmine strings, we have women covering their head. Over than a hue and cry is made of Hijaab.

Look at any Hindi movie the south Indian woman is shown as loud, crass the worst one is the one by Rohit Shetty not only does he portray the south as uncouth, with ugly men and loud garish women is absolutely maddening.

Talk to taxi drivers of Goa, they do not want a customer from UP-Delhi because they never pay the fare they always underpay.

With the advent of Konkani Railway the Wednesday train that arrives from Bihar-UP brings in the migrant male worker who is so steeped in his Hindi culture, they have infiltrated into every class 4 employment, they join in on temporary basis, again their inability to speak anything else has holds the coastal community to ransom we are forced to learn Hindi, with the Hindi-man comes his mentality independent woman to him is someone, who he can make lewd comments on, he thinks they are prowling for attention from men, it is sickening.

With star and zee networks entering regional channels, we are forced to watch the vernacular translations of Hindi serials, these translations are bad, the values and ethos do not belong to the vernacular culture, and issues are not relevant. Which is why many of us subscribe to online channels on YouTube, whenever I give a public talk on media awareness, I bring it to people’s notice and tell them where the alternates are available.

At the end of the day Mr. Singh Hindi is as alien to me as English, I choose English over Hindi as it is a language that my grandparents taught me, they did not teach me Hindi, I learnt Tulu, Konkani, Tamil Kannada and English by the way I do speak Hindi, I have read enough of Hindi authors right from Tulsidas to Bacchan, Nirala, and MaithaliSharan Gupta, but if you demand I speak Hindi I do not. And once again HINDI IS NOT THE CULTURE OF THE COUNTRY, IT IS NOT THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY, it is Language spoken by a minority population of Majority non Hindi speaking population, Hindi can go Up…the…okay I shall curb the spontaneous word comes and up the pole.


I am angry so I refuse to apologize for either my thoughts or my language,

On NH66

I love driving down the stretch from Goa to Udupi.

On this stretch despite the dug up roads, crazy diversions and sliced old houses, which to me are slicing up of an old way of life there are some salient point.

One of them is a small eatery which is tucked in a village called Gunavante some 30Kms, off the town of Kumta on the NH66, it was known as NH17 before.This eatery was introduced to us, by my friend’s father and it did not have visible name board.

The sliced hillock and other buildings make mooring rather difficult, as the familiar landmarks are no more there. On our onward journey we missed out on this joint maybe having had breakfast at Kamat upachaar at ankola we were not really looking out for it.

Dosa haven

On our way back we managed to sight the place and we got down for breakfast. The place is as if we are walking into somebody’s house maybe we are I am not sure, the simply arranged old fashioned benches, unpretentious decor he has four tables and four benches, yes the old fashioned ones, the only difference this time is that he has tied the bench to the wooden pillars of the house as the sliced terrain renders the risk of the bench and people sitting on it getting toppled.

He opens at the crack of dawn, as his first customers land at 7 am. The menu is very rustic, “Tuppa dosai” there is no hint of Masala, with traditional coastal chutney which is made with coconut and urad dal, and sambhar again the coastal kind,  avalakki Mosaru that is beaten rice with curd served with pickle, buns another traditional coastal snack made of banana’s and maida served with chutney, and Idli and vada… it is called vada and not the urban “meduvada” for in the rural or traditional Udupi cuisine meduvada is something else. The only concession to modernization is Puri-bhaji, which is puri with potatoes instead of the traditional puri-palya or puri with random vegetables cooked with coconut in coconut oil.

The rustic seat, secured to prevent toppling, check out the traditional coastal pillars.

The dosa’s are amazing, yes they do seem to swim in ghee but the crispness is just right it is served piping hot. The coffee is to amazing, Idli of course was rather flat, maybe because we really just enjoyed the amazing dosa,

As we were waiting for the dosa to arrive, I could see the old grinding stone, where a gentleman was grinding for the idli and dosa for the next day. It reminded me of my grandfather and his siblings and many of the young people from the Brahmin families during the turn of the last century.

People had just begun moving from their villages outside to find jobs that were considered modern like putting hotels youngsters also moved to town to study. Traditional people would leave home after school, do bit of their studies at Mangalore or Madras and move on to Madras for higher studies. Though these people were not impoverished there was a lack of cash since transactions would be in kind. It was kind of  became an accepted norms for the Brahmin boys who left home to study to be offered stay and food at these hotels in return they would grind and prepare the batter of the next day, cut up vegetable for and help the cook get ready for the next day.  These activities would be supervised by the owner’s wife.

So and Udupi hotel came to mean a place where the food was cooked and served by Brahmins,  it also meant the use of onions was also zilch, as opposed to the military hotels which served non-veg and drinks.

Of course Udupi hotels now mean different the kind of food served is so totally different from where it began.

Eating there brought home the extent we have walked from independence to today, culturally value wise. The container of water at the entrance every guest walks up washes his or her hands, asks the owner if they can wear their foot wear in, it occurred to me we are at the crossroads where a way of life is slowly dying.

back on NH17 I mean NH66



Bright colours, punched out white dots that resemble a rhombus, some mirror work, some embroidery, the magic of Bhuj, the Bandhini.

When we went to Jamnagar, I was looking for the Kutch work, when our friend told us, that it is the Bandhini that you have to pick here more the Kutch work or the bead work. Well to be frank I would have still loved the bead work and I plan to go some day to pick it up the bead work.

However when I looked at those fabric a faint images of a friends garage, four preteen kids huddled trying out fabric colours, they were fads then, we had traced out some patterns though I cannot remember what, piercing a pencil securing the fabric with rubber bands, in a bucket we had poured in the dye, and I think immersed this fabric and totally forgot about it,

It is only now I recognize what we were trying our hand at, we were trying out Bandhini, a type of tie dye textile, decorated by plucking the cloth with fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design … this very apt definition is from Google and not mine.

However the tern Bandhini has its root in the Sanskrit word Banda or tie. Another very similar fabric art is the chungdi from Madurai, that’s for another day.

I was told by my guide, that the earliest evidence of Bandhini was in the Indus valley civilization, and dyeing was done even during the Indus valley days, there are 6th century painting depicting the cotton fabrics that were there. BanaBhatta’s Harshacharita talks of Bandhini being used in a royal wedding, and the paintings on the Ajanta walls holds evidence that Bandhini sari’s were considered auspicious.

Africa and south East Asia shows evidence of various natural dyes and manmade dyes being used. The Bandhini technique which is popularly called tie and dye was well developed in the china in 618-906 AD and Japan in the 552-794 AD

In India, the Khatri community started the Bandhini technique. They create turban fabric and shawls known as odni’s, the way the turban is draped and pattern on the fabric helps to identify which community the person belongs to.

My own commitment to my home looms, tell, me each and every piece of cloth embodies the spirit skill and personal history of an individual weaver…. it ties together with an endless thread the emotional life of the weaver, then comes the artisan with brush and dye, who adds the critical magic.

Bandhini Fabric with embroidary

For the followers of the loom I found this very interesting link …


The Spice Route culinary festival

My first memory of the Bolgatty palace was in the early eighties when I visited Kochi with my father, we had been to the ophthalmology conference, while papa was busy with the sessions my mother and I did what we loved the most not shopping, sightseeing.

We had been to fort Kochi, the Jewish settlement, there was a weaving place and finally the Bolgatty Palace, what had struck to me then and what struck to me this time was this was a very un-palace like palace. It was like two glass walls held by two brick walls, it is definitely not so, but that was the feel I got.

The first time when we went there we had to go by boat this time round there a bridge to cross over, and when had sailed the boat I imagined the era of the Muziri’s and the spice trade.

This time we were visiting the tourist event of culinary festival of the spice route, it was a Kerala tourism program co-hosted by UNESCO. Countries  like Lebanon, Italy, and many others taking part. There were international chefs participating.

The spice route cook out.

The events were understanding Kerala and its spice heritage, and the traditional cooking.

Going to the Local fish and vegetable markets where the chefs could pick up ingredients, and a Muziri’s tour for the delegates and

On the 25th, cooking and food presentation sessions took place and 26th was the day for the display, the Kerala chef contest of the professional category and the amateur category was on.

As we walked along, there were numerous fragrances wafting. There a great sense of excitement too.

Wish Kerala tourism would organize a spice route within the country it would really be an interesting thing to experience.

The endeavour was to recreate the ancient trade routes that Kerala was once the port of Muziris, which was known as Muyirikode, Kakotai, or Mahodayapuram, it was also an bustling urban centre. It is been mentioned in the bardic Sangama literature and number of classical European journals. Though the exact location is not known the literature refers to it at the mouth of the river periyar. The Kerala tourism is reviving the Muziris heritage.

The theme of the festival is the spice route that is the trade route between historic civilizations of Asia, northeast Africa and Europe, spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, turmeric were traded. References to this is found in the early writing, stone age carvings of Neolithic age, and there are references to Muziris a port in Kerala, and it is referred to as land of spices or the spice garden of India. Interestingly the traders who and Chera kings who did the trade considered it is gifts exchanged rather than commerce.

The Sangama literature talks of the Pandya kings causing disruptions so the trade route got shifted from the Chera kingdom to the Pandya. Muziris lost its trade centre status with increasing pirate infestation and finally the great flood.